23 October 2009
Knights of Malta escort the 25th annual Rosary Crusade of Reparation past Westminster Cathedral
The 25th annual Rosary Crusade of Reparation and Marian walk of faith was held on Saturday October 10 on a glorious early autumnal afternoon in central London.
After assembling at two o'clock in the afternoon in Ambrosden Avenue outside Westminster Cathedral, some 3,000 lay Catholics and clergy marched two and a half miles through Victoria, Belgravia and Knightsbridge.
The walkers included members of the Catholic Police Guild carrying an image of Our Lady of Fatima, and Knights of Malta who provided an escort.
They passed both the English bishops' conference headquarters in Eccleston Square and Harrods department store before eventually arriving at their destination of the London Oratory.
As they walked with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima held aloft the procession, led by Mgr Emmanuel-Marie de St Jean, abbot of the stunning monastery of Sainte Marie de Lagrasse in the south of France near Lourdes, continually sang Marian hymns and prayed the rosary.
The Abbot of Lagrasse was visiting London to commemorate the foundation of the Friends of the Canonical Abbey of Lagrasse. Accompanying the abbot was the sub-prior of the Abbey of Lagrasse, Fr Augustin-Marie de la Trinité.
Having arrived at the Oratory with the pilgrims the abbot, wearing a mitre made for Cardinal Newman, gave Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
"It was a wonderful experience for me," the abbot told the New Liturgical Movement journal, "to see the deep devotion to Our Lady which is shown by Catholics in London. I was honoured to lead the procession which serves as a great witness to our faith."
The abbot also offered Mass in the Extraordinary Form at both Westminster Cathedral and the Oratory, and had a private audience with the Archbishop of Westminster.
Following the procession's arrival at the Brompton Oratory there was a Solemn Pontifical Benediction at which Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe officiated, followed by several lay Catholics receiving Carmelite scapular enrolment. Then Mass was celebrated.
Over the last quarter of a century this particular October walk of faith has steadily grown in popularity to become the second-largest Catholic annual procession in Britain.
The numerically largest annual Catholic walk of faith takes place each July in Clerkenwell, east London, when approximately 10,000 Italian Catholics and their friends muster to evangelise in the locality.
The third largest Catholic walk of faith annually, with 1,000 participants, is the one that passes through Manchester city centre in June, and is again an Italian procession. Both Italian processions are around 100 years old.
John Eidinow, chairman of the Friends of the Canonical Abbey of Lagrasse, said the Friends were devoted to rebuilding and restoring the gothic abbey church and the conventual buildings.